Kyle Cavan: Commemorative Jewelry By Women, for the College Woman

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Have you bought your class ring yet? That heavy piece of metal that commemorates your four (or more!) years at this great university? Class rings are great, but sometimes you want something that can hold this experience closer, an accessory that you can wear every day. For the longest time, there has been nothing like this in the jewelry market. Luckily, Kyle Cavan approached us and gave us the perfect solution.

Kyle Cavan is a jewelry company based in New York City that designs unique jewelry for several elite universities. Southern Methodist University is one of their fourteen collegiate collections, and we got to talk to Kyle Garcia, their founder and designer, as well as Elizabeth Shirley, their Director of Marketing and Partnerships, and Elizabeth Garcia, their Marketing and PR Manager. They told us all about themselves, their college experience, their work and most importantly, the SMU collection.

Kyle Garcia went to Duke University and graduated ten years ago. When she came back for her five year reunion, she found her self unable to believe that her collegiate classmates didn’t have a way to commemorate their time together. Their class rings had seemed so important at the time, but now they just sat in boxes on their vanities. Kyle sought to solve this problem. Her major had been history with a focus on post-World War II infrastructure. She found that her study of history led her to be fascinated with the way things come together, and how architecture is able to mark important moments in time. Her experience is why every college collection focuses on the big architectural landmarks of each university—SMU has the gilded ceiling of Dallas Hall on its shield pendant—making jewelry that reminds us of our past, but is still wearable.

Kyle Cavan’s Marketing and PR manager, Elizabeth Garcia, went to Tulane University, and studied marketing. Her major came in handy when Kyle approached her and asked if she would want to work with the emerging company.  Elizabeth Garcia left her job at another PR company and jumped on board. She even helped to design the collection for her alma mater.

Their third female leader in the company is Elizabeth Shirley, the Director of Marketing and Partnerships. Shirley was friends with Kyle for more than twenty years. At Penn State she studied as an ad-business major, but she found herself wanting to be able to build a brand herself. “What better way to do that than with a friend?” she said. She left an advertising job to work with Kyle, and has never looked back.


These three women have created a jewelry company from the ground up, and most importantly, they bring a female perspective to it. They found that there was a hole in the commemorative jewelry market, and they sought to fill it. So many class rings were designed by men, and for men. The first class rings had been worn in the 1800s, and the relatively masculine design hadn’t changed in those two centuries. College women buy class rings, but rarely wear them because they don't go with their style. There needed to be options that could hold that memory, but still be stylish. Enter Kyle Cavan.

Their collections are complimentary to the class ring. The company values itself as making designs that can be worn anywhere and everyday.The SMU collection includes several possible commemorative options, ranging from the Iconic Bangle with Dallas Hall, the Shield Pendant with gorgeous gilding that evokes the Dallas Hall ceiling, the Signature Bracelet, and cufflinks for all your gentleman friends. “You can wear these pieces every day and you can make it a part of your life. It doesn’t sit in a jewelry box,” says Kyle Garcia. They see their collection as so noteworthy because not only can you wear it with a gown to a black tie event, but you can also throw on their Shield Pendant with a t-shirt and jeans. Their versatility is what makes them unique. You won’t wear your bulky class ring to a night out with the girls, but you can throw on their necklaces or bangles for the everyday. Plus they can be a staple in your wardrobe.

We asked them where they got their inspirations, and Kyle Garcia was quick to answer any design questions. As each collections designer, she is inspired by the literal and abstract architecture on each campus. She looks at iconic elements like stained glass, bell towers, entrances and the seminal elements of any university’s architecture. The SMU collection takes inspiration from Dallas hall, a building we have all walked through and where we have spent at least several hours studying University Curriculum. The designs for SMU either directly represent the building itself, or recreate the gorgeous gilded ceiling with its delicate glass and strong lines. We’ve all sat and stared at that ceiling for minutes on end, so it’s no surprise they chose to imitate it in their pieces. The Shield Designs also represent the family crest, a very subtle way to remind us all where we come from, and where we are going. 

The most important part of the designs? The use of the compass. Every piece comes with the packaging of a “passport,” with gold foil that stamps a college ID code and where they came from. It’s meant to be symbolic of the first stamp on a passport, and the compass reminds them to live this life with direction and purpose. It’s engraved into all of their pieces, and inspired their own compass collection that deconstructs the design. The branding ties them back to their roots, and connects all of their collections together, whether they are from one of their 14 different college collections or from their one high school collection (shout out to Pace Academy!).

We asked each woman what their favorite piece from their collections were, and how they would style it.

Elizabeth Garcia chose the Pendant Necklace from her alma mater. She loves how she can use it to elevate a normal outfit, or how you can add some sparkle to dress by tossing it on. She wears it to transition her looks from day to night.

Elizabeth Shirley loves the Shield Pendant, and wears it with a drop pearl necklace. Combined, she says it tells the biggest story about her. She wear her compass lariat as well and loves to add cool layers to her jewelry look.

Kyle Garcia wears her shield necklace with anything, and sometimes wears it backwards to show off the compass. She also loves the beautiful blue compass bangle.

Our favorite? The Southern Methodist University Iconic Bangle. Absolutely would wear it with our cap and gown.

Kyle Cavan is a jewelry company with the college woman in mind. It’s a company for women and by women. When we asked these ladies about their experience as female entrepreneurs, they were nothing but positive. They’ve found so much support from other female businesswomen, with a network of New York women who want to help other women. Shirley described it as almost a sisterhood of women in the business world. In a time where it can be so hard to be both feminine and a strong woman, their work speaks to the fact that we can all be a little of both. Sign us up!

Southern Methodist University Shield Pendant- from $145

Southern Methodist University Iconic Bangle- from $395

Southern Methodist University Signature Bracelet- from $645

Southern Methodist University Shield Cufflinks- from $195


All Photos from Kyle Cavan